My thoughts and a brief introduction on Sensorimotor Therapy for Trauma Clients
In April, I attended a workshop on Trauma and the Body – The Theory and Practice of Sensorimotor Therapy presented by Anne Westcott on behalf of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute (SPI). I’m particularly interested in theories designed to implement treatment on trauma clients. This particular workshop opened a new realm of possibilities for me. I had my sights on becoming specialized in EMDR in the future but perhaps SPI’s three level certification program is another avenue to explore for me and for anyone seeking to work exclusively with trauma clients. I don’t necessarily believe that one theory is better than another; however, I do believe it is about what works for you the therapist and your clients. The Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute was founded by Pat Ogden in the 1980’s out of her interest in the correlation of client’s disconnections from their bodies/their physical patterns and their psychological issues. Before PTSD appeared in the DSM, Pat recognized that treatments in that time seemed to trigger traumatic reminders in a detrimental way. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) is drawn from somatic theories, attachment theories, neuroscience, the Hakomi method and cognitive approaches. Pat Ogden quotes “most human behavior is driven by procedual memory – memory for process and function – and is reflected in habitual, automatic responses and well-learned action patterns: movements, postures, gestures, autonomic arousal patterns, and emotional and cognitive tendencies.” This SP workshop explores the processes of memory and how this information can be utilised to change procedural learning in a window of tolerance for the client with PTSD. Specific skills such as tracking and attuning the body are taught. Dysregulation is noted with trauma responses of fight, flight or freeze and how the neuroscience behind the sympathetic and parasympathetic brain structures play a role in these trauma responses. SP uses movement to move the client in a state of active mobilizing defenses into a state of triumph.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA